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The Bad Guys Won! A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-chasing, and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform--and Maybe the Best Hardcover – April 27, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drugs, sex and groupies abound in this book by Pearlman, a reporter for Newsday. Only the author isn't a rock critic chronicling the wild escapades of a band; he's describing the very successful 1986 season when the New York Mets won the World Series. As remarkable as the team's performance on the field, the players' escapades outside the stadium are perhaps more memorable, in a far less flattering way. Pearlman, an unabashed Mets fan, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the team, including an insightful portrait of Frank Cashen, the general manager at the time. Pearlman discusses the trades, the players' abilities and unforgettable games. But much of the book is about the difficulties and the unprofessional behavior of many of the players. For example, on one rowdy flight back to New York, United Airlines billed the team an additional $7,500 for damage resulting from food fights and other unruly antics and said the team couldn't fly the airline again. Cashen was upset, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team. The drug use that would become public later was not addressed at the time, though it was obvious to reporters. When asked whether Dwight Gooden was healthy, despite several minor car accidents, Johnson had nothing to say: "As long as Dwight Gooden was smiling and in good physical shape, Johnson required no knowledge about the pitcher's private time. Johnson was a manager, not a babysitter." Pearlman's book isn't simple nostalgia-some of the players have virtually disappeared from the public eye-and much of the wild off-field behavior is still part of the game today. Baseball aficionados, especially Mets fans, will enjoy this affectionate but critical look at this exciting season.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In 1986, the New York Mets won the World Series, taking it from the Boston Red Sox in some of the most memorable baseball ever played. Pearlman doesn't really want to talk about that. He wants to tell you what terribly bad boys these Mets were. There is no boozing, drug use, or bimbo eruption that he does not describe, nor does he miss a single evil quote from one player about another. Doc Gooden's and Darryl Strawberry's silken and glorious talents are not examined nearly so much as their wastrel paths to drug and alcohol use are scrupulously detailed. Rampant sexism and underhanded racism were certainly part of the baseball scene in 1986, but must Pearlman revel in them with such glee? And the prose? Perlman goes purple at the slightest provocation: Bill Buckner's left ankle "throbbed like a transplanted heart." There is a lot not to like here, which is exactly why it will draw media interest and may well become one of the hottest-selling baseball books of the season. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1St Edition edition (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060507322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060507329
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Pearlman is a columnist for He has worked as as a columnist for and, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, a features writer for Newsday and -- amazingly -- as The (Nashville) Tennessean's food and fashion writer. He is the author of two New York Times best-sellers--Boys Will Be Boys, a biography of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys, and The Bad Guys Won, a biography of the 1986 New York Mets. He is also the author of a pair of, ahem, non-New York Times' best-seller, Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero, and The Rocket That Fell to Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality. Pearlman lives in New York with his wife and two children, and enjoys Kirk Cameron films, T-shirts and the taste of gum.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Christopher White on May 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I don't want to start a baseball holy war, I'm giving the book three stars, not the '86 Mets. In my opinion, which interestingly enough is what a review is, the book is simply average.
It basically reads like a long magazine article, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, considering that the author was on the Sports Illustrated staff. I only mention it because I payed full price for the hardback and would have liked something more than something I could have read in SI for free.
My main criticism of the book is that it is completely anecdotal. A string of stories over the course of a season which never captures the whole. Everything is breezed over; a few stories here, a few stories there. Lack of depth is the main evil of this book. He gives you enough information to interest you, then leaves you high and dry when you want more.
I don't want to draw this out too long because I have only one real problem with the book, and you probably already know what it is. It is just too short, and not in the good way where it is just so good that you wish there were more. There should have been more. Too many things were quickly glossed over.
That said, the book was entertaining and thoroughly interesting. If you are interested in baseball, I would reccommend this read, but please wait for the paperback or borrow it from a library. Paying cover price on this thing is robbery.
To sum up, it's a by the numbers account of a championship season. You won't get much depth, but you will read some funny stories about Tim Teufel.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gary M. Greenbaum on June 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Pearlman tells the tale of the '86 Mets, how they were put together by brilliant GM Frank Cashen, the turmoil and triumphs of the '86 season, and how this team with so much potential for dynasty status managed to win only one championship.
Pearlman begins with a bang--the near destruction of the interior of an airplane by the newly crowned NL champion Mets, returning from Houston after the classic 16 inning battle which won them the NL crown.
Much of the focus in the early part of the book is on how GM Frank Cashen built the Mets piece by piece, taking them from the no-hopers of the early 80s to the great championship team of '86.
The discussion of the regular season (since the Mets won by some 20 games, not that exciting) is livened up as we meet the individual members of the team.
We see the behind the scene tumult as well. Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden display early signs of the flaws that would mar their careers. Manager Davey Johnson seems blissfully unaware of the turmoil which will eventually shatter the Mets, making the Mets of the late 80s one of the greatest teams to win only one championship.
Time slows as we reach September, with the Mets' mini-collapse that prevents them from clinching the division against the distant second-place Phillies, leading to a Tuesday night riot at Shea as Mets fans storm--and nearly destroy--the field after the Mets beat the Cubs for the division title.
Time slows further for the postseason, where the Mets meet their most severe tests, and two opponents--the Astros and Red Sox--each convinced that they can beat the Mets--and each nearly does.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on May 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Jeff Pearlman wasn't much older than me in 1986... deep into his junior high school years and watching the baseball playoffs on TV. While many books have been written about the 1986 Mets, most of those were from participants and first-hand observers. Jerry Izenberg and Dan Shaughnessy wrote quickly-forgotten journalistic accounts the following year, as did ghost-writers for Gary Carter and Lenny Dykstra. Of course, to say that Dykstra's book was quickly forgotten would be unjust... his book is well-remembered, but not for any of the right reasons.

Pearlman's achievement is to insert himself into the story nearly 20 years later and write an extended "Sports Illustrated"-style look at the seamy underbelly of "baseball like it oughtta be". He does this through 187 interviews, but no bibliography. Therefore, if you're keeping track of that kind of thing, it's not easy to determine which player quotes derive from fresh interviews, and which are recycled from old sources. However, his recreations of the infamous Cooter's nightclub arrests, and the trashing of the charter plane flying home from Houston after Game 6 of the NLCS, benefit from an I-was-there sardonic third-person reporting style.

John Rocker now plays baseball on Long Island, for an independent team -- for Bud Harrelson, in point of fact. The intersection is amusing for readers of "The Bad Guys Won!", as Harrelson features in the book, and as Pearlman is the guy who in some respects helped Rocker travel the terrifying downward spiral from World Series to Central Islip. As you might expect from the author who allowed Rocker to marinate in his own oratory, "The Bad Guys Won!" also features more finger-pointing than other books.
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